By Sanskriti Pandey:
His crime? Being a political and civil rights activist. And, well, daring to indulge in the normal activity of holding a meeting with fellow activists. On that fateful day of May 8 in 2007, Arun Ferreira made headlines as one of the most important arrests of a senior Maoist leader yet. The ‘Bandra Naxalite’ was charged under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, and was thrown into Nagpur Central Jail. Slapped with fabricated charges one after the other, Ferreira was released and rearrested with further conjured-up charges in his name. Imprisoned for four years and eight months, Ferreira rallied for his basic rights in jail as well. And this was only the beginning for the new addition into the list of all those suspected Maoist leaders supposedly trying to spread propaganda in cities, which, in most cases, later turn out to be innocents.
Tortured, manhandled and abused, Ferreira recorded his experiences as a prisoner, as can be read in this article from 2012. He was finally granted bail in January 2012, and since then, is studying to be a lawyer and be a facilitator in the prevention of further arrests like his. Undeterred, and in fact emboldened against an oppressive state, Ferreira has been determined to get the real sketches of prison-life out. Through personal sketches of moments that define an inmate’s life, he paints first-hand accounts of what he’s fighting against. From the medical facilities in jail, the ‘mulakaat’ moments of family visits, and weekly salute to prison officials, to the alarm bells commotion, the caste oppression in jobs involving cleaning of toilets, the food, and the very moment in September 2011 when he was arrested right outside the jail as he was being freed in front of his family – Ferreira has sketched it all. In this video, the activist describes the sketches in their entirety and context, recounting what it was like to be a prisoner of the state for no crime.